Please check out this great trailer!!
There is a new film out about Medjugorje. Wayne Weible calls it “a must see documentary.” He is not alone in the sentiment. I spoke to a tour guide recently who plans many trips to Medjugorje, and he explained to me that people are having very powerful reactions to this movie, audiences are touched (often to the point of tears) and deeper conversions to a life of faith where Our Lady’s messages are lived appear to follow. The film is called “Queen of Peace,” the very title with which the Madonna of Medjugorje introduced herself to the visionaries in 1981.
“Queen of Peace” is the work of Christina Georgotas. Georgotas, who has a background in mainstream television as a producer, is a gifted filmmaker. You’ll notice it immediately. Her documentary is a stylish work that uses creative cinematography and a solemn, elegant soundtrack to recreate (nay, to bring to life) the story of Medjugorje. It is easily the most professional documentary that has been made about the popular apparition site, using archival footage of the visionaries from the early years that have not been seen anywhere else while combining it with modern testimonies and exclusive interviews with some of the major figures surrounding Medjugorje.
The filmmaker stayed at the home of Mirjana Soldo and managed to get a new, and very intimate, interview with the visionary. At one point, invoking all the pressures that the visionaries were under during the first years of the apparitions, especially from the Communist government, Mirjana is asked whether she ever felt like giving up. Mirjana’s reply, “Never,”—spoken with solemn dignity, unwavering confidence, and a strength coming from a deeper place within the soul—explained that when you know you are living for the truth you are willing to give your life for it. It corroborated recent reports which testified that the Medjugorje visionaries were ready to become martyrs for the cause of Our Lady’s apparitions when their lives were threatened by the Communist state. In listening to Mirjana’s powerful interview you sense a defiant serenity that is sustainable only through the power of supernatural intervention in one’s life; the power of being close to God, of knowing where one comes from and knowing where one is going.
The documentary captures a rare testimony as well – one recently given by Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez in Medjugorje. Ivanka, the first visionary to see Our Lady, is the one visionary who has, since the apparitions began, led the most private (at times, reclusive) life. Seeing her witness to the first days of the apparitions was both rare and intriguing. Creatively, by using split-screen, her testimony is juxtaposed in the documentary with that of Mirjana, who was there that first day with her friend Ivanka as the Madonna appeared to the two girls.
Allowing us to see both Ivanka and Mirjana—the first two visionaries to encounter Our Lady—retell the story side by side, through split-screen cinematography that also incorporates footage from the earliest days of the apparitions, captures a powerful, reminiscent nostalgia as we witness these two women, young visionaries then, and now mothers in their maturity, older and spiritually developed, testifying to the moment that not only changed their lives forever but the lives of millions of people around the world who have been affected by the Madonna’s apparitions in Medjugorje.
The film is not only filled with spiritual prowess but also intellectual depth. It’s sophisticated, very smart and sharp – something that would appeal not only to the longtime devotee but also the skeptical (perhaps even secular) mind that has yet to hear of Medjugorje or Marian apparitions. Thus thorough time is given in the documentary to presenting the meticulous ways that the visionaries have been tested by science throughout the years by various, international medical teams – not being able to discredit the apparitions despite more than three decades of attempts.
Additionally, the documentary presents information on the more than 600 medical healings that have been copiously documented in Medjugorje in the archives of St. James parish. Many of the diseases which people have been miraculously cured of in Medjugorje are highlighted. The range of these ailments is startling; to give a very small sample, they have included numerous cancers, multiple sclerosis, and even blindness – in this diversity of diseases what becomes reminiscent are the remarkable healing miracles that Jesus Himself performed in first century Palestine, as documented in the New Testament. An ancient, miraculous power is reawakened when one realizes what is happening in the Bosnian village.
In this regard, a very powerful testimony is filmed – an exclusive interview with Arthur
Boyle, an American who – much like Colleen Willard or Rita Klaus – has one of the more famous stories of healing and conversion associated with Medjugorje. Boyle, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer that spread to his lungs, eventually having three tumors in his right lung, was predicted by his doctors to be on his way toward a speedy death. All hope seemed lost. Then he and his family traveled to Medjugorje, encountered the visionary Vicka, prayed with her for the gift of healing..….. what happened next was scientifically inexplicable, something that defied the purview of medical science completely and baffled his doctors. Arthur Boyle, to put it simply, had an encounter with the supernatural.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about “Queen of Peace” is a very tricky balance that Christina Georgotas captures, one that a lesser filmmaker may not have accomplished so gracefully. She is able to present to us the seriousness of the Madonna’s messages in Medjugorje, especially the call to return to God—after all, the visionaries have alluded to severe chastisements that await the world after this time of grace—while simultaneously being able to capture the joy and peace that permeates and radiates from the visionaries and those associated with Medjugorje, from the Franciscan priests of the parish, to the countless of pilgrims that visit the sacred site each year and have their lives transformed. This is not only a delicate, but moreover an important, balance to strike in portraying Medjugorje accurately: presenting the seriousness of Our Lady’s call, on the one hand, and the life-transforming tranquility and joy that has accompanied those who have responded to that call, on the other hand. Here the film attains a difficult but admirable task in conveying the nature behind this sacred reality.
I was fortunate to be asked to provide an interview for this documentary last year, to speak about the immense medical and scientific studies that have been performed on the Medjugorje visionaries throughout the last three decades – a topic which I have written articles on and which my doctoral dissertation is based on. When I saw the final product – the beauty, the sublimity, the elegance and spiritual power that encapsulated the movie – I was honored to have been a part of such a noble work. “Queen of Peace” is an appropriate title for this documentary, for one feels the touch of the Queen of Peace all over this project. It is a very special work. It is a film of great depth, beauty, spiritual and intellectual prowess. See this film, and allow it to inspire you and uplift your soul; allow it to change you.
(for the film’s official Web site please visit www.medjugorjefilms.com, where DVDs can be purchased)